Tinny strains of amplified music announced the coming 'ordeal'; the bathroom door swung open; the slightly distorted twang of Mid-eastern instruments clamored in.
Simon, wriggling with embarrassment, tried not to look. But, upon seeing Brandy veiled, composed, and bejeweled in the bathroom door frameclad in silk, copper coins, and layer upon layer of ornate fineryall he managed to express was an awestruck gape.
It seemed an impossible entrance to accomplish unaffectedly, yet, against all odds, Brandy was doing just that, primarily with her eyes which looked, as they peered out over a diaphanous veil, enormous, an extravagant makeup heightening their green-eyed allure, their expression at once aloof and coolly confidential, their invitation to 'partake' countermanded by an implicit 'do not touch.' She held this pose just long enough to impart its equivocal messageand for Simons worst presentiments to take their leave.
Finger cymbals chimed. An anxious rattle rose from loins bedecked with beadswhich chattered hauntingly (like teeth against the grip of a chill desert night). Scent, mixed with incense, drifted from under Brandy's garments. She appeared to hold perfectly still, yet the rattle persisted spread... distracting Simons attention, evidently; when he looked up from the beads her position had changed. The rattle climbed to her breasts (enveloped by baubles)oscillating orbs like twin full moons. Again she changed positionarresting him who gazed at every alteration: fabric to flesh, shawl unfurling from limb to bracelet-manacled limb, silk drawn taut then limp then taut as her torso tensed, its muscles in compliance with the music's pent-up energy.
Striking another pose (Simon again missed the transition), Brandy held her breathand hisfor a moment's hesitation.
Suddenly the pace was brisk, ebullient, unreserved! Her body shook with accelerated vigor, breasts pitched side to side, shoulders flexed, her belly like some totally independent beastquivering, rippling, quaking, its dimple a deep indentation, its palpitating pith of flesh-tones all a bluras jewelry glistened, refracted the yellow lamplight, splintered it through the room in mirror-ball beams of gilt of silver:
Simon sat enthralled by the dancers level gazewhich guided his attention whenever, wherever it pleased:
Then, with an artful gesture, she let fall her veil which drifted, in a pliant faint, toward her gracefully tapered ankles.
The dance raced ahead:
she stooped and floated,
pranced and frolicked,
lost herself in a fury,
yet maintained strict command,
the rhythm coming, of a sudden, to an unexpected halt
or a pause
during which she knelt,
bowed her head,
then brought her chest to the floor,
its contours flattening,
arms outstretched like the wings
of a mantling bird
the music recommenced.
Yanked as by some unseen drawstring, Brandy rose at the waist, bent over backwards, pinned her shoulders to the floorher midriff jutting, her compact bust transformed into oblong spheres:
a wave passed through her abdomen
rippling north to south,
then rippling in reverse,
as each traversed the naked length and breadth
of her palpitating belly,
all in perfect time to the music's pulsing drone.
Thighs thrust forward, spine sprung erect, Brandy leaned left to right like a breeze-blown palm tree
with nimble facility,
she rocked back to her feet.
The tempo quickened. Coins collided as she shimmied energetically. Perfume spread in wafts with every skirt-flared spin. Smiling at him now (with eyes alone) Brandy moved as if gravity itself had lost its jurisdiction; her bare feet scarcely touched the ruddy Spanish tile, as she glided, twisted, swirled, twirled, gyrated, then crossed for one last time to the bathroom's darkened door...
finger cymbals crashed;
a final pose was struck
as if by magic,
she abruptly disappeared.
Simon burst into a round of spontaneous applause, clapping his hands as thunderously as a single spectator could.
Brandy swept back in, out of breath and glistening, drops of perspiration like sequins on her lightly freckled skin.
"Did you really like it?"
Simon stood, continuing his ovation. Brandy started to leave but he caught her by the elbow. He wanted to speak, to tell her—right out loud—how wonderfully she had danced.
Interpreting his intent, she humbly replied
then slipped from Simon's grasp and beelined into the bathroom.
Once there, the imprudence of performing on a full stomach prompted a commotion that would not quit. Brandy shed her costume just before the first eruption overwhelmed her and chicken cacciatore (now thoroughly pulverized) ushered its confederates into the commode.
Devoid of all three courses, she leaned back, slumped, and tried to stifle a should-have-known-better groan.